On the last Friday of every month, Bill Kornmayer and his wife, Rita, join a small team of volunteers from Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church to serve homemade tuna casserole to 50-60 hungry adults who come to Mission House daily for a hot lunch with all the fixings.
The group provides the tuna, noodles, potato chips and special sauce, which make the tasty casserole so popular among the Shetter Avenue clientele. “We bring all the food except for the salad, dessert, and bread, which is provided by Mission House,” said Kornmayer. “We’ve been doing tuna casserole for three years. Before that we used to make a stir fry, but the folks, they eat this easier. They just love it,” he said.
Both faithful members of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Ponte Vedra, the Kornmayers also volunteer for other church ministries, but reserve Mission House as their only “outside” volunteer activity.
An ardent supporter of Mission House since its inception, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church supplies volunteers and financial support to the nonprofit, which funds two hot meals, health services, counseling, employment opportunities, and help finding permanent housing to homeless individuals within Jacksonville’s beach communities.
The Kornmayers began their monthly service as cooks at Mission House five years ago after becoming acquainted with Pat Morrissey, another church member who leads the group.
“I like cooking, and I enjoy helping people. I volunteer for other things at the church, but this is the thing I can do outside of church,” Kornmayer said. “We see a need and, believe me, we get more out of it than they (the clients) do. We see the appreciation. The people are thankful.”
Kornmayer, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, said observing how Mission House’s street people live has been an eyeopener.
“Mission House is important because it provides more than just food. Food for these people is one issue, but here they get healthcare and help to get housing. Mission House helps get people off the street. Before I started working at Mission House, I didn’t realize how many people are really in need. I thought it was a smaller group,” Kornmayer continued. “Now that I see what’s occurring, I think the most important part is to help these people find work – employment – so they can live off the streets.”